Sports Betting Not Likely to Be Legal in Massachusetts This YearMassachusetts
Despite optimism over the summer, it now seems very unlikely that sports betting will be legalized in Massachusetts this year.
This week, leaders in the state Senate said there are a lot of other priorities for them to tackle for the remainder of 2021. While no state senator came out and explicitly said a sports betting bill wouldn’t be considered this year, they all but said it would be difficult.
There seems to be no urgency to act in the state Senate, even though Massachusetts residents, businesses and other lawmakers really want to get on board.
Massachusetts Could Rake in the Dollars
Massachusetts has been trying to pass through a sports betting legalization bill ever since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, which allowed states to handle sports betting legislation on their own. To this point, nothing has been successful at the state level.
There seemed to be considerable progress this year, though, when the state House passed a sports betting bill back in July. That paved the way for the state Senate to take up — and pass — the bill so it could head to the governor’s desk for signing.
Advocates of the sports betting bill say Massachusetts could rake in roughly $70 million in extra tax revenue for the state through legalized sports betting. In addition to that, every five years, the state could earn $80 million on sports betting licensing fees that would be paid by operators.
The House has long advocated for a sports betting bill, passing a similar bill to this one last year. That one was shot down by state senators who said they wouldn’t vote on such a bill while the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height.
The State is Falling Behind
One of the biggest issues for some Massachusetts lawmakers isn’t just that the state doesn’t have sports betting legalized. It’s that many surrounding states have already legalized it.
Neighboring states such as New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island all have legal sports betting on the books. This means that residents of Massachusetts who want to gamble legally on sports need to travel to one of these neighboring states — and they’re doing just that.
Even the state’s governor, Charlie Baker, realizes that sports betting needs to be legalized in Massachusetts so they can stop losing money to their neighbors.
Before the first New England Patriots game of this NFL season, Baker took to Twitter to make his case, writing:
“Great to see the @Patriots back! We filed a bill in 2019 and again this year to legalize sports betting in MA — it’s time to act and get this done. MA is losing out to many of our neighbors on this one.”
The governor’s words seem to be doing little to convince state senators that a sports betting bill should be a priority for the remainder of 2021. That is leaving many of the state’s sports bettors in the dark, and costing the state and potential sportsbook operators a lot of money as they miss out on the football season.